The project Science Education for Diversity (SED), funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme continued into the third and final year of collaboration among research groups from the University of Exeter, UK, the Netherlands, Turkey, Lebanon, India (HBCSE) and Malaysia. In the first year HBCSE led the literature review and documentary analysis of the status of science education and diversity as well as the policies towards the same in each country. Since then, HBCSE has actively provided country relevant inputs to the other work packages of the project. Surveys were conducted and contribution made in developing a theoretical framework for the relationship between culture and science education and planning interventions in classrooms. Monthly virtual project meetings were held and two face to face meetings at Indianapolis (March 2012) and Malaysia (September 2012). Intervention workshops were held for teachers and a presentation made at NIE Singapore. An India expert panel provided guidance.
Interactions for SED Classroom
Questionnaire responses from 1522 (Classes V to VIII) students and 48 teachers, and interview responses of 108 students and 11 teachers were analysed. Students were positive about mathematics and science related disciplines and careers, and felt that India would be the S&T leader by 2030. However they were confused about what was science, and half of those surveyed believed that science always or sometimes includes predicting future luck. Most teachers believed that differential academic abilities, and not their ethnic, religious and social backgrounds were an obstacle to the teaching of science and stated that they did not adjust their teaching to take account of cultural differences, reasoning that everybody is equal.
The analysis led to a framework for understanding the relationship between culture and science education within classroom settings. The intervention in 3 schools with 4 teachers, showed that science learning was not seen by teachers and students as involving critical reasoning, argumentation, and dialogue. It is a matter of concern, that even when students face conflicts with the teachings of science, or are unsure, they do not argue or raise questions. However more dialogues – teacher-student, student-student and student-group – occurred during the planned intervention phase. The participating teachers did not comprehend diversity nor pedagogical strategies to address them. Teachers hardly reflected on cultural diversity among their students and the crucial role it could play in planning for the teaching learning process.
Final Report Summary can be accessed from here.
Birwatkar, P. , & Chunawala, S. (2015). Science teaching with a difference. Teacher Plus, February 2015, 24-26.
Birwatkar, P. , & Chunawala, S. (2014). An innovative strategy for addressing diversity in a science class. In S. Nath (Ed.), Proceedings of the ICSSR Sponsored Two Day National Seminar on Innovations in 21st Century Education (pp. 73-86). Mumbai: K. J. Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training and Research, Vidyavihar.
Chunawala, S., Birwatkar, P., Muralidhar, A. & Natarajan, C. (2013). Looking at science through the lens of diversity: View of Indian students and teachers. In G. Nagarjuna, A. Jamakhandi and E. Sam (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME 5: International Conference to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. Cinnamonteal. pp 185-191.
Choksi, B., Chunawala, S., Natarajan, C., with SED partners. (April, 2011). Science Education for Diversity WP2 Synthesis Report. Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai, India.
Choksi, B., Chunawala, S., Natarajan, C., with SED partners. (June, 2011). Science Education for Diversity WP3 Synthesis Report. Eindhoven University of Technology. The Netherlands.
Choksi, B., Chunawala, S., & Natarajan, C. (2010). Science Education for Diversity- India Country Report. Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mumbai, India (October 2010).
Chunawala, S., Muralidhar, A., Birwatkar, P. , & Natarajan, C. (2012). Towards Science Education for Diversity: A teacher Researcher Collaborative Workshop, HBCSE, Mumbai, December 2011.